Tips For Good Kitchen Hygiene
Most of us could benefit from a few tips on kitchen hygiene. It's not that we necessarily have dirty kitchens, most of us probably don't. Still, there are always one or two things we may overlook, or not be aware of, that constitute poor kitchen hygiene.
If you work in a restaurant, you usually don't get kitchen hygiene tips, you get kitchen hygiene rules. That's all right. Preparing many different dishes in a restaurant, or food for many customers in a cafeteria creates more possibilities for conditions that, from the standpoint of hygiene, are at best substandard.
Here, we're talking about the kitchen in the home, where there is not apt to be a list of hygienic rules posted on the refrigerator, and usually no need. There are a few things we do however, that we probably should not do.
No Standing Water - We should not let water sit, whether spilled on the counter, the floor, under the refrigerator, or simply is left from dishes stacked on the counter after rinsing. Water can become a breeding ground for bacteria, especially if other substances, such as dust, are present. Water sitting under the refrigerator, a warm dark place, is an ideal breeding ground for mold and mildew, things you definitely don't want to take hold in the kitchen. It's even a good idea to wipe the sink bowl. Water droplets in the sink aren't too apt to cause a problem. They usually evaporate soon enough. But it's just a nice habit to get into.
A Family Heirloom – The Kitchen Cloth - What about the handy kitchen cloth you use to wipe up water from the floor, counter, or sink? That handy cloth is seldom if ever rinsed. After all, it's supposed to be a dirty cloth isn't it. Well a dirty cloth, often laden with bacteria, at some point in time comes into contact with a dish, or perhaps with your kid's jam-covered mouth. We're supposed to eat something like 7 pounds of dirt a year according to an old wives tale, but whoever came up with that one probably didn't have the all-purpose dirty kitchen cloth in mind.
Dog Hair In The Salad? - Try to keep animals out of the kitchen. Dogs can usually be trained to stay out, though when food is present they will often try to test you. Cats are a different matter. The kitchen counter is often just another place the cat feels it has every right to be, along with every other place in the house, of which the cat of course is the owner and most important resident. Still, good kitchen hygiene means the pets should be elsewhere.
Clean Counters And Cutting Boards - It's important not only to keep kitchen counters dry, but keep them clean as well. Wiping off the counter with your dirty kitchen cloth isn't really what is meant by cleaning the counter. Use a paper towel if need be. Clean counters are important, but even more important are clean cutting boards, especially wooden boards which over time will feature many small cuts or scratches. Even a very tiny opening on the surface of a cutting board can harbor more bacteria than you'd like to think about.
Handling Foods - When preparing food, take special care when handling meat, poultry or fish, especially when raw. Bacteria can multiply on raw meat at room temperatures if the meat is left standing for any length of time. It's always a good idea to keep meat and poultry products separate from other food items, especially those which are not going to be cooked. Cooking will destroy most bacteria, but we seldom cook our salads, and raw chicken coming into contact with lettuce is something best avoided when possible.
Keep Everything Clean - The final tip for kitchen hygiene: Clean everything, and clean everything often, to the point of being called fussy, or a perfectionist. There's nothing wrong with being a fussy perfectionist in your own kitchen.